Joe Biden faces Paul Ryan next week on Thursday night in the one and only Vice Presidential Debate. You can expect a similar tactic as Romney's to come from Paul Ryan next week. By tactic I mean lots of lying about what Romney/Ryan has said they plan to do, coupled with some weird new substitution and more"it is so because I say so" type rhetoric.
This is what Biden is up against.
Tonight President Obama tried to nail Jello to the wall. It should be perfectly clear to team Obama that pinning Romney's past positions and statements to him while effective, is not by itself enough. The Romney campaign clearly made the calculation that being seen as a flip flopper is not as bad as being seen as "severely conservative" and so what we saw was a relaunch of a patently more moderate Mitt Romney.
So instead of framing Romney as the out of the mainstream ideologue that he is, President Obama was forced to deal with this much more evasive, much more vapid reincarnation of Romney. The flip flopper who simply changes his position again and again, pretending that's always been his stance, and you just never understood it.
Given this change The President did a good job toward the end when he wrapped all of Mitt Romney's debate answers together in an overarching theme of lots of ideas and no plans. The mistake was that this strategy took up the entire debate before it paid off, and the payoff wasn't a total smack down.
But if there is anyone who can take on the Jello-Twins, it's Joe Biden.
Joe Biden needs to be more aggressive in calling Ryan out on lies and flip flops than the President was. Thankfully Joe Biden has always been a bit of a junk yard dog and he needs to embrace that in a way he was not allowed to in 2008.
Back in 2008 the Obama campaign had a very real concern about Joe Biden being too hard on Sarah Palin and creating sympathy for her when we needed people to judge her inexperience and ineptness without emotion. We didn't want people feeling bad for Sarah Palin and giving her extra points because she's new and old Joe was so hard on her. So Joe was polite and reserved.
He doesn't need to be that way with Paul Ryan. Anyone who saw the 2008 and even the 2004 Democratic Primary debates knows Joe Biden can hold his own in a debate. He never made a lot of headlines, but he does have the ability to call people out on their lies and their misrepresentations in a very effective way.
The biggest miscalculation of tonight's debate was focusing on differences in policy. Mitt Romney has been all over the place on specifics, very vague, very bumbling. The calculation the Romney campaign made was that by staying loosey goosey the President couldn't pin him down on anything specific and that is exactly what we saw. Pointing out Romney's past statements and how they are inconsistent with tonight's statements, is not the same as a take down of those polices, or even the same as a take down of his character or lack thereof.
Instead President Obama should have focused on the flawed philosophy behind Romney's ideas. Here are a few examples.
1) The idea that the country would be better off without ObamaCare when we have the entire history of our nation as an example for what life without ObamaCare looks like.
2) The idea that we have too much regulation when we have a long history in this country that shows the effects of good regulation on Wall Street. You can look at Glass Steagall and contrast it to the Bush years. Very simple.
3) The idea that the individual states, all of which rely on the Federal Government to balance their own budgets can somehow go without Federal money and oversight and do a better job is ridiculous.
4) The idea that we should waste money letting the states experiment with 50 different variations, when we know what works, is dumb!
5) The idea that the states can come up with a better health care plan than ObamaCare, yet have not done so in the entire history of our nation is equally ridiculous. Just as the private insurance market never bothered to offer coverage for Pre-Existing conditions, they could, they never did.
6) The idea that Tax Cuts create jobs. That when the rich do better they create jobs. If that was the case we should be swimming in jobs because aside from the Clinton administration, we have tried those polices for the last 20 years, including President Obama's first term.
Attacking these core logical fallacies that prop up the Romney/Ryan world view is by far the most effective tactic to use against flip floppers who change specifics but never the overall message. That is what Biden has to do.
So how does he go about attacking Ryan when he is likely to be even more pointed, and even more slippery than Mitt Romney? Well first he has to come prepared with the numbers and facts at his disposal. But Biden always does. Second he has to counter balance every attack with praise for the President.
Obama never once mentioned how many jobs he has created, or any of the success stories of the last 4 years. How we're on a better path today than we were 4 years ago. This was all doom and gloom because the President never redirected the conversation. He spent all of his time either defending himself, correcting Mitt Romney or pointing out problems with Romney's statements.
Third you address this loosey goosey nonsense right off the bat. Ask the question is The Ryan plan is still on the table, and when (not if) he says no, you throw it out. The one exception being the $716 Billion dollars for Medicare Advantage which you only use when he tries to claim some moral high ground on that talking point. Why throw the rest of it out?
Ryan's comeback for the evening will be some iteration of:
"I'm not the one running for President, Mitt Romney is." to which Joe should respond with "Have him come on out, I'll debate both of you." or "Governor Romney called your budget Marvelous, and for some reason he won't debate me so I'll have to make due with you."
Otherwise to keep hammering him on the Ryan budget would be, I think a mistake unless you're doing one of three things.
1) Demonstrating how he's a hypocrite on the $716 Billion dollars talking point.
2) Pointing out that Romney though Ryan's terrible budget was so marvelous that he picked Ryan as his VP.
3) Making the point that the only hard numbers we have from the GOP ticket are in Ryan's budget. As if it is the defacto policy.
But that's all. The rest of the Ryan plan is irrelevant. Shouldn't even bring it up. It's a great gotcha moment, but not by itself a strategy. Instead Joe Biden should attack on underlying principals of Romney/Ryan and he should do so in the way I explained above, but also by simply comparing it to the President's world view. The goal for Joe Biden should be to get that little twerp to show his Ayn Rand world view to the American people.
Praise big Government as the only entity that can stand up to big business.
Praise Government for being accountable to people via elections, like the one we're about to have, while voters have no control or recourse over what businesses and the private sector do to them.
Channel the motto of the United States, and not that stupid "In God We Trust" nonsense the far right pushed on us in the 50s during the cold war. I mean the real motto, the one that stuck with this nation since 1782. The one that really truly captured the spirit of what this nation is all about.
E Pluribus Unum: From Many, One.
Joe needs to go "collectivist" as Paul Ryan might say and provoke Ryan into "Going Galt" in front of the largest television audience he will ever face. Unmask this Mini-Mitt as the Ayn Rand extremist he is by provoking it, and then call it out as the selfish, unrealistic, unamerican non-sense that it is. Because once the American people see the "I got mine, fuck you." mentality that drives this man they will not like it.
Besides that, Joe should make sure he is properly briefed on the events of 9/11 2012. There is that whole witch hunt house committee thing that is set to take place in the days before the debate. Joe needs to be properly prepped for questions on the state of Libyan security and what exactly happened that day and in the immediate aftermath. He should have praise for the President ready to go, he should have a contrast of policy ready to throw out there and he should also be ready to remind people how Mitt Romney handled that situation.
Joe has an opportunity to do what President Obama didn't quite achieve tonight, and that is to argue our side aggressively and with a certain gusto. To BRAG about the last 4 years!
President Obama may not like debating, but Joe Biden certainly does. If you are at all concerned about Biden's ability to carry this burden, just watch this collection of clips.